Saturday October 1 Carlisle, Ohio
Having fun and getting ready to leave
When I wrote the title to today's Daily Journal I was thinking of this afternoon and not this morning. As I was doing the little job shown above, I remarked to Linda that this was one of the reasons I was glad we lived most of out Life in California. Here we were, a day when the temperature would be lucky to reach 50 and with a wind blowing, but inside I was not. What I was doing was standing on the ladder installing the gutter guard over the back porch.
I was positive I used to do the same thing during those early years of our marriage when we lived in Ohio. Wait until all the nice days were gone before installing the storm windows or cleaning out the gutters and repairing the gutter guards. I may have gotten better in my old age, at least in my mind, but I sure haven't seemed to have gotten any smarter. I did get the twenty feet of plastic gutter guard installed with only one minor wound, and now everyone, meaning Linda and Katherine, is happy. Katherine because she won't be getting water down the back of her neck when she lets the dogs out and Linda because Katherine is happy, and also because now she gets to play doctor with me. As for me, I was just glad to be out of that cold nasty wind.
Sometime I just have to post a photo simply because it is. This is one of those times. I will admit when I first saw Linda getting down on the floor near my feet, I managed to blurt out, "Have you finally decided to bow down before me and worship me at my feet?"
Yes, I actually said that! And not only that, but I remain alive and one piece despite having said it directly to Linda. Would you believe that I didn't get either of the responses I expected once I realized what I had said.
Not only was there no utterance of "Yes, most wonderful and loving husband, I can barely express how lucky I am to be you wife." There wasn't even the least hint of the opposite reaction, not even a tiny snarl. What there was came as a shock. She laughed, and not just a little giggle either. It was a great big hardy, and very much out loud laugh. In a moment of will wonders never cease, she told me that she was drying her hair. It isn't fair I tell you. Here I've spent all these years getting to the point of expecting snarls and growls, and now she starts laughing at me. Women, I wonder if they even understand themselves?
Two shirts side by side. Note that I have purposefully cut off the heads of those wearing said shirts. That is because to reveal their identity would likely land me in hot water should I comment on which person was wearing the shirt with the accurate statement. Later while taking more photos of these two siblings, I got lucky and they themselves identified which was which.
This is where I wisely say nothing and let the photo do all the talking. Smart Bob.
To help all you readers decide which shirt is correct, here is a little help. This is Katherine's beautiful young daughter Lori, along with her friend John and their stuffed pet beaver named Jerry.
Here's Linda's old husband Bob wearing the shirt that he discovered was the same as the one the beautiful young woman beside him was wearing.
This is where I write no more, other than to say that there are certain subjects that will forever remain a mystery. Oh well, such is Life, but I do have a pretty good idea of which sister is which, which something that no one will ever know. Sometimes men can be so dumb. This this one of the times this man is going to be smart, so in the immortal words of Sgt. Schultz, all I will say is "I know nothing!"
Sunday October 2 Sullivan, Ohio
The best people on earth
Last morning in Carlisle. After all who would want to stay in place so cold you have to lay your clothes out in front of the heater before you put them on if you don't want to be screaming about how cold they are when you put them on. And that isn't Linda's clothes we are talking about, those are my clothes. Meaning I must really be getting old if that is the case. Either that or it is the built in full timer early warning system alerting us that it is definitely time to be heading south for the winter.
Early morning, though after the frost had melted off the windshield of the Explorer, found us saying goodbye to Katherine and hitting the road, heading north. I know I said that all the signs were saying for us to be heading south, but sometimes to go one way, you have to head in the opposite direction first. This was one of those times. In addition, the GPS wanted to take us via Interstate highways for almost all of our day's trip. That is not how we like to travel, so with the exception of using the outer belt to miss the Dayton area traffic, it was the back roads for an old fashioned Sunday drive through the country.
We don't always take the back roads even though we do prefer to take them whenever we can, but one reason we do is because of sights like this. I don't even remember in what town it was where we saw this mural on the side of a building, and really it doesn't matter. What does matter is that we were on that road and we saw it. Just another of those special things we run into traveling down the full time road of Life.
Special things aren't always things, sometimes they are people, and we were privileged to spend time with two of the best people on earth before the day was over. We had been invited to stop by Pat and Sharon's house, and that was what we did. But not only did we stop, we stopped for an overnight stay in the coach.
We have been the luckiest people on earth during our travels, meeting some very special people who either are or want to be full timers. Pat and Sharon are impatiently waiting for their house to sell so they can join our ranks. Knowing them started as so often the case, by an email from a reader of the Daily Journal that asked a few questions, and with one thing leading to another even though we had never meet, we knew that they were our kind of people.
These times are really special in a way that someone who doesn't full time may not understand. It is a case of us looking in a mirror and seeing ourselves some six or seven years ago as we took our plunge into the "soon to be full timer" Life. We know we will be seeing Pat and Sharon again, only this time when they are out on the road as fellow full timers. And that what they were seeing when they looked at us. Themselves a few years in the future. It is so great to be around people who want to live Life. After all, Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.
Monday October 3 Salem, Ohio
Back to the beginning
Confession time. I did not write yesterday. I did write yesterday's Daily Journal, but it was today. Too long of a day yesterday, then no time this morning or afternoon. I may be cheating, but since it wasn't a day I didn't want to write, but rather one I simply didn't have time to write it, I'll just say that my streak of writing everyday is still intact. Linda might object, but if she does I'll just give her my usual answer, writer's privilege.
Guess I wasn't with it when I wrote yesterday's Daily Journal today as I forgot to put this photo in, except that Linda didn't take the photo until this morning. I must be losing my mind. One thing that this shows is that the 41 foot coach that Pat and Sharon are seriously considering buying is not going to fit on the concrete pad in front of their garage. Just one more reason to get that house sold.
It's not always the driver. A long narrow driveway with several curves. Trees hanging out from one side, a soft lawn on the other. What does it take to back into something like this? The best navigator I've ever been married to. Of course that also means she is the worst navigator I've ever been married to, but that is somewhere I can not go and live to tell about. A real man is one that knows exactly what limitations his wife puts on him. At least I think that's what a real man is.
We do like those back roads, but there are times that we sometimes wonder if just perhaps we would be better off doing the Interstate thing. Actually this was the road crew working on the road in front of Pat and Sharon's house. We were so far out into the country that maybe someone reported that an out of state vehicle had actually driven down the road, and that brought out the road repair crew. Linda, I know that isn't true, but please, it does make for a good explanation of what was happening. Like I mentioned earlier, just chalk it up to writer's privilege.
The drive today was long in distance, but is was decades in time. Our final destination was just a few miles from where it all began for me early one summer morning during WW II while my dad was off in the Pacific serving in the US Navy. The next few days will find us visiting some of those memories of my childhood. Some of the places no longer exist, some of them I don't even know if I can find. But it really doesn't matter, what matters is that we are here. Here being the land where my ancestors came to sometime around 1810. And it gets even better because in the next 10 days we should be over in Eastern Pennsylvania where those ancestors lived before coming to Ohio. And while I know this area very well, I have never been to that area of Pennsylvania. Like Linda says, maybe I do deserve some special time in special places. It may be cold and rainy, but it really doesn't matter as we have fun living Life.
Tuesday October 4 Salem, Ohio
When we left to go out hunting for my dead relatives this morning we didn't get to far. I had the Explorer loaded and ready when Linda cane out, then everything stopped for a while as she marveled at what had sprung up overnight outside the front door of the coach. I know she would have seen them herself, but I did have to open my big mouth and blurt out that there was something she would like by the front of the coach. It's something she really enjoys, so I'll just have to give myself a Good Bob.
It's just the back of a tombstone, but it also marks where everyone in my immediate family are buried, my brother over 40 years ago, my dad some 30 years ago and my mother just a few years ago. It is strange when you visit something like this and all around you see the markers of the parents of the kids that that you went to school with, and then you start noticing that more than a few of them are the actual kids you went to school with. I think how sad they died so young, then I noticed that many of them died in just the past few years. It puts just how old a person is into a different perspective. I may not be old mentally, but it sure looks like I might be getting older in years.
Interesting what you find when you download the photos off your wife's camera. While we were off scouring the different corners of the cemeteries, it was obvious that Linda wasn't always looking for more of my dead ancestors. That was okay because she was having fun and so was I. By the way, my best ancestor haul was five sets of different grandparents in one cemetery. The farthest back in any of the cemeteries was a set of great-great-great-great-great grandparents. It's interesting how for so very long family's stayed in a certain area, but now we seem to all be moving away and scattering over the country.
I'll end the day as we ended ours, with a stop at one of the many orchards that dot this area. And would you believe it, we didn't even buy any apples. But we did by a half gallon of fresh, and I do mean fresh, cider. It doesn't get any fresher than when they are squeezing and bottling right in front of you. Some days are good and some days are great. Today was one of a mix of emotions, some sad, some glad. Yet when the day was over it was back to our home and realization that while someday we too would be nothing more than a gray stone in a cemetery, we are living Life to its fullest the way we want to live it with the person we want to live it with. What more could we ask for?
Wednesday October 5 Salem, Ohio
More cemetery time
I hope readers aren't thinking that we spending so much time in cemeteries so that we can be prepared for when the time comes for us spend the rest of our days in one. Some people like to watch TV, others find enjoyment in reading. For us, one of the things we enjoy is spending time walking through cemeteries, wondering about the stories of those whose Life get a glimpse of just from what is written on those stones. In this case, the stone is that of the five year old who died in 1833, and who was brother of my great grandfather. Other than that, we know nothing about him other than his name was Caleb. And in any cemetery there are dozens of unknowable stories just like this one. One last thing about this cemetery. Yesterday I wrote that there were five different sets of my various grandparents buried here. This morning we found a sixth set. This is truly where my roots are.
In the afternoon we headed in a different direction, but with the same result. This cemetery actually had none of my dead relatives in it, but from what I could read, it had a number of interesting stones, enough so that even Linda agreed to go. I like the big tall obelisk type of markers, especially the ones that just have the last name of family on them. This one had names and dates on it, but it marked the family that gave the land for this cemetery, so in a way it told a story. I know, I know, so I might be a little weird, but since weird is as weird does, just call me a happy boy.
Linda also likes the obelisk style of markers, but not the same way I do. I like of the big tall ones, while she looks for the cute little ones. There are places I could go with this that I won't, so I'll just say that everyone has their own idea of what pleases them. I have to admit that this cemetery had a wonderful mix of smaller obelisks, even to the point of the top of some being of a different type of stone than the base. It was one of those "Oh, look at that one!" type of cemeteries. If you're into cemeteries that is.
This is why we do what we do. A statue of a two year old girl who died in 1886. There are stories of her following people who enter the cemetery at night. There are stories of those flowers magically appearing overnight anytime they are removed during the day. There is a novel that features this marker as key to unraveling a mystery. And you have to wonder why we enjoy cemeteries so much? So it is likely that tomorrow's Daily Journal will feature even more cemetery photos, or at least tales of our cemetery adventures as that is where we will once again be going. And lest you think we will run out of cemeteries, all the markers we have been seeing so far are from my dad's dad's side of the family, so I still have three lines to go after this one. Nobody ever said tracking down your dead relatives was a one day job. I know it sure isn't in my case. I guess that when one side of your family has lived in one area for almost 200 years it means there are many opportunities to see what once was. So here we are, living Life, and how, now and in the past.
Thursday October 6 Salem, Ohio
Here and there
Something we haven't talked about, but something that is. The Explorer for the past year or so has been drinking a good bit of coolant with every tank of gas. It isn't a good sign, but as long as a quarter to a third of a gallon of coolant per full-up keeps the temperature gauge in the normal range, we will limp along until the day comes, probably this fall or next spring when the Explorer goes to the great scrap yard and we have a new Jeep Wrangler. If it dies along the way that day will come sooner. If it lasts till then, it lasts till then. In the meantime: Who, us worry?
Linda let me know that there was entirely too much cemetery in yesterday's Daily Journal. She was probably right, but when that was all we did yesterday, was I supposed to make something up to talk about that didn't happen? After all, everything I write about in the Daily Journal is exactly what took place, with every word exactly as spoken, even though Linda doesn't always think that is how things take place. I realize that most readers of this Daily Journal understand I might substitute a word now and then, or perhaps phrase things a little differently than the sequence they took place in order for the story to flow better. Unfortunately in many cases Linda's memory is different than mine, and even though I try to accommodate her idiosyncrasies, there is only so much I can do.
So it is with a great deal of trepidation that I post this photo of the young woman who tells me how high to jump, posing beside a tombstone. This one is different however. It is a long story, one that while buying a book at a flower shop near a cemetery I made a very positive impression on the young lady who ran the shop. The result was a free guide of all the interesting stones in the cemetery, out of which this might have been the most interesting of all. A freed slave who spent his life weaving baskets, there is a basket as part of his tombstone. If you put some penny's in his basket it is supposed to bring good luck. Linda is doing her part to bring us good luck.
I grew up in the 1950's, and one of the very first things I did every day after coming home from school was to get the newspaper from the box out by the road. We lived "way" out in the country, and this was that connection I had with the "real" world. Dick Tracy was my favorite comic strip, and I can remember being enthralled about the adventures of one of the Flattop villains as he tried escape in a railroad pickle car. It was a, "I can't wait till the paper comes to find out what happens next" situation, something the kids of today have absolutely no comprehension of. Those days are gone forever, but what days they were. And it was this same Salem News that I so eagerly looked forward to reading each day. I didn't buy one to see if Dick Tracy was still there. There are some memories that are best left just as they are.
It is hard to tell what this is, and much of it looks a whole lot different that it did 52 years ago when I won a number of medals during a track meet on the cinder track that was once here. I was on top of the world that day. A seventh grader that won more medals than any of the eight graders at my school. I still have them, and they are special to me. That was the day when I realized that I could do anything I wanted to if I was willing to pay the price in pain. There were numerous times during my Life that I did that same thing. Simply to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. Too bad I never learned to take that to its next step and make something more of it. Hey, I was happy with what I had accomplished, so what more could I ask of myself.
There is a story here that goes way beyond a dozen eggs. A trophy shop in a small town. A sign in the window saying farm fresh brown eggs for $2 a dozen. A conversation at the time of the purchase. The realization that this is a small world. The trophy shop was formerly owned by a former high school classmate of mine. The current owner is the ex wife of a good friend of mine during my school years. What are the odds? As Linda always says, "Things happen for a reason." It is just that I may never know the reason for why all this happened.
There is no way that I can convey the joy that I feel while I am here where I grew up. The totally unexpected connections that I have made. The connections with past generations that I feel. I simply can not understand people who have no sense of history. To me they are not living, they are merely passing time until they draw their last breath. Linda and I Live Life every day, do you?
Friday October 7 Salem, Ohio
Very long day, very short Daily Journal
I will not subject you to a Daily Journal filled with cemetery photo's, even though that was what today was all about. Until today our cemetery sojourns have dealt solely with my Dad's, Dad's side of the family. Now we were branching out, checking out my Mom's side of the family. Here is Linda cleaning up the grave of one my many second cousins, of which I have dozens and dozens. Big family's were the rule of the day for all the farmers on Mom's side of my family. It was like, if there weren't at least a dozen kids, then the farm was going to fail.
Full time RVer pointing to Civil War Statue. That is what the title to that photo is, but it doesn't say what is really taking place. Both Linda and I had members of our family's who fought in the Civil war, but only I had one that died. Here I point to the name of my great-great grand uncle who, a few months after he enlisted to join his brother in the 3rd Ohio Battery in 1864, died a horrible death from chronic diarrhea near Marietta, Georgia. This monument honors the men of the area who lost their lives fighting to preserve the Union and defeat the southern slave owners.
I was a very lucky little boy. Both of my grandmothers were dead by the time I was born, yet I was blessed by a person who, while not my grandmother, was a grandmother times ten. I knew Fern and Lester them as Aunt Fern and Unkie. But they were far more than mere words. They were people who loved me unconditionally, and who would do anything for me. Every single one of my earliest memories involve them. Today was a long day, and it was late afternoon, yet I was driven to go many miles beyond where we were when we really needed to be returning to the coach. I literally had to go see Aunt Fern and Unkie. If you have have someone like them in your Life you know what it meant to me. If you didn't, I hope your children, grandchildren or great children have someone like them in their Life. The two things I cherish most are a painting of the house Aunt Fern grew up in that dates from the around 1850 and the other is a photo of me with a toy lawn mower standing between Aunt Fern and Unkie in the 1940's. Those memories are what makes the "L" in Life a capital "L".
I want to end on something other than cemeteries, and so we look at the grilled pork loins that we had for dinner. Each of us live our lives day by day. Some dreaming of what what might be, some living what is, and others remembering what once was. We are in the "what is" phase, and as such, there were grilled pork loin chops for dinner. I must give credit where credit is due, and it because of the great grilled pork loins that Roger, our Retama neighbor, served to us that we are now grilling our own pork loin chops. Life is what we make of it. We made something of ours today. Did you make something of yours?
Saturday October 8 Salem, Ohio
After yesterday, we don't do much
The inside of an abandoned house. Just a derelict building alongside the road that is slowly decaying and crumbling. The inside ransacked with only the bare remnants of what once was to be seen. This is not the house, but on this property some 130 years ago stood one of the finest homes in the area. A grand house with a huge barn and numerous out buildings stood here. That time is long gone, but I can still look and see what once was. And while it was the brother of my great grandfather who owned this farm, in a way it is mine, for I carry the genes he carried. History. The past. It is something different to each of us. For me it is a connection that still exists.
I confess to not knowing what this is other than a pile of rocks. I do, however, know where it is. A defunct amusement park where all traces of the rides and attractions are long gone. Only weeds along some areas of asphalt and concrete remain. Here too are memories of times long past, of days of youth when the future seemed unlimited and time knew no bounds. We can't go back, our future is much shorter now, but those memories remain. Maybe we can't go "home" again, but we can go where "home" once was.
This is a beautiful place, the trees changing colors, and the land familiar. It is something to be able to drive anywhere and know where the road goes, and even if we get lost for a moment, the next intersection brings a familiar name to mind. Tomorrow we leave all this behind and head to eastern Pennsylvania, a place we have never been to before. Yet in a way I have been there, because in 1806 my great-great-great grandfather, a widower, left there with six young children and headed west to the frontier, the place where we now are. It shall be interesting to go even further into my past. Some people are happy where they are. In our Life we moved from one side of the country to the other. Maybe it is in my blood. Whatever it is, it will be an interesting search for an unknown past when we get to Leigh County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania tomorrow.
Sunday October 9 Grimville, Pennsylvania
A long day of driving
Time to be a total writing wuss. Almost seven hours of driving today, but we really needed to get from eastern Ohio to eastern Pennsylvania. Much of it was on Interstate 80, not our favorite way to travel, but given where we were going and our desire to get there in a short time, it was what we needed to take. Everyone travels their own way, but when we do these days, I like to drive. Drive as in drive more than four hours without a break, then make a quick lunch stop for 15 minutes or so, and get right back on the road until we arrive at our destination.
We had pulled out of the RV park this morning at 8:30, and as we traveled through the countryside towards I-80, the early morning mists made for something that is out of a story book. Later we passed the river where once miles and miles of coking ovens, blast furnaces, steel mills, and rolling mills lined its banks. They are gone now, only memories, and that is where we are headed, to a place where I have never been, but were the place of memories to my ancestors. And where hopefully I will gaze upon the graves of ancestors I've never known.
It was 1806 when my great-great-great grandfather traveled the route we were taking today, but in the opposite direction. What we drove in less than eight hours, took him weeks, We traveled as man and wife, and in our home. He traveled without a wife, being a widower, and with six children, the youngest being three years old. We traveled to an RV park where we had all the comforts of home with minutes of arriving. He traveled to a land of trees, where the land needed to be cleared before it could be farmed. There is no way we can appreciate what he went through.
As we drove along we listened to books on CD and marveled at the beauty of the fall colors. I don't know how he traveled. I don't know what month or months it was or what route he took. I do know that he had to be an uncommon man to do what we did. And some eight years later when he died unexpectedly in his late forty's, he had already accumulated enough wealth to provide nicely for his children. We can visit his grave. We can read his will and the inventory of his wealth, but to know where he, and by extension, where I came from, we must walk the ground a few miles from where we are now staying. The next few days are going to be most interesting as we live Life where Life came from.
Monday October 10 Grimville, Pennsylvania
Back into the past
I realize that these past days have not seen my usual style of writing, but neither have they seen our normal way of Life. Today was another day to go back into my past. Far, far back, back to a point where to the best of my knowledge, I was at the place in time and geography where I was with the first of my ancestors to set foot on the North American Continent. Back then the road was said to be no more than two ruts of a wagon road, hardly worth being called a road at all, and it was the only real "road" in this part of Pennsylvania. This is not that road, which was the so called Kings Highway, but it is one of the roads we traveled to get to where my great-great-great-great grandfather built his tavern at a place called Hosensack. A place along the road with a sign, a place with buildings of varying ages, but with no trace of my ancestors as the old log tavern was torn down nearly 150 years ago.
Just because the "modern" buildings here have no connection to my ancestors doesn't mean I shouldn't care about this place. Many people have no sense of history, and that is okay. I revel in history. I look at old buildings and wonder what stories they could tell. I stand at this place and wonder what brought a young German immigrant here in the middle of the 1700's. Or what was it some 50 years later that caused his son, a widower with six children to leave here and travel to eastern Ohio to begin a new Life. Some look at the past and ask why should they care. I look at the past and ask, how can they not care.
Portrait of a young woman in a cemetery. That doesn't tell the story though. Linda was not here to help me discover a tombstone of one of my relatives, just as I wasn't here looking for any of them myself. Our reason for being here was to help someone else, someone who had put in a request on an Internet site for a photo of a tombstone that they thought was located in this cemetery. Linda had a list of some ten markers that people wanted photos of, and with dumb luck as much as anything, we were able to locate two of them. Take a fairly large cemetery, add in stones that were badly eroded and barely legible, then top that off with the fact that they were in German.
We could see this one well enough to be able to deduce that it was one of the requested markers. This was our first time ever doing something like this, and as Linda posted the photos and emailed the people who had requested them, it was apparent that it gave her as much pleasure as if it had been one of our own relatives we had found. Obviously it isn't a hobby for just anyone, and it may not be something we continue to do. On the other hand with our love of old cemeteries, how could we not continue to do it. Just think, we could be living in the house we lived in for years, still doing the things we always did before we retired, or we can be doing things we never even thought about. For us, the choice was, and is, easy.